Jones, Gordon ignite late Colonels surge past UCA tp clinch SLC berth

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THIBODAUX, La. — After enduring an aggressive back-and-forth battle across the opening 23-plus minutes of the contest, the Nicholls State University men’s basketball program (13-6, 10-2 SLC) turned to seniors Andre Jones and Ty Gordon hoping for an early-second half spark, instead watching the duo orchestrate an essentially-fatal 28-10 run to put visiting Central Arkansas (3-16, 2-9 SLC) away for good, upending the Bears by a final 79-68 margin Saturday evening at Stopher Gym to clinch the Red & Gray a second-straight Southland Conference Tournament berth.

Throughout the entirety of the opening period and into the early minutes of the second, Central Arkansas refused to falter despite consistently trailing by two or three possessions; after UCA managed to cut the lead down to just one with 16:10 remaining in the regulation, though, the Colonels shifted the team’s offense into high gear, breaking off a 28-10 stretch over the next 10-plus minutes to lock in the eventual victory. During that span, Jones logged eight of his team-best 24 points before Gordon closed the streak on back-to-back-to-back triples, pushing the Red & Gray advantage to a solid 19 points, good for the largest of the matchup.

KEY STORYLINES & STATISTICS
— For the night, Nicholls finished shooting 44.9 percent (31-of-69) from the field, 29.0 percent (9-of-31) at the three-point line and 57.1 percent (8-of-14) from the charity stripe.
— With the win, the Colonels secure the team’s third season sweep of the year (Lamar & Southeastern Louisiana) along with an official berth in the upcoming Southland Conference Tournament.
— For the first time this season, Jones managed to pace the Red & Gray on the scoreboard, finishing with a year-best 24 points behind an 11-of-19 shooting performance. Notably, the redshirt senior’s previous season mark stood just one point shy of tonight’s outing (23 points at HBU), but was noticeably quieter with Gordon racking up 27 on the same day.
— Meanwhile, Gordon looks to have returned to mid-season form following back-to-back slumps into single-digit scoring at Lamar and Southeastern Louisiana, posting a team second-best 22 points while also leading the Colonels in assists (3) for the ninth time this year.
— After entering the season with no double-doubles to his name, senior Ryghe Lyons seems to have set his sights on remedying that fact, registering his third of the year behind a 14 point-11 rebound showing.
— Fellow senior Kevin Johnson rounded out the Colonels’ double-digit scorers, notching 13 points on the night to go along with a team-best four steals.
— Prior to tipoff, the Nicholls Athletics Department along with Colonels Men’s Basketball celebrated nine members of the 2020-21 team on Senior Day, honoring Kevin Johnson, Ryghe Lyons, Jeremiah Buford, Andre Jones, Najee Garvin, Jaylen Fornes, Damien Sears, Ty Gordon and undergraduate manager Nick Vallot. We thank each and every one of these Colonels — from the four-year veteran to complete newcomer — for their contribution to the Nicholls Men’s Basketball program.

UP NEXT
With a chance at the regular season conference title still on the line, not to mention the the highly-valuable high seeds, the Colonels look to maintain some momentum heading into the final matchup of the two-game home stretch, hosting HBU in the latter end of a doubleheader with women’s basketball on Wednesday, Feb.. 24, first tip scheduled for 8 p.m. at Stoper Gym.

STAY SOCIAL
For more information on Colonels Men’s Basketball, follow the team on Twitter (@Nicholls_MBB), Instagram (@nicholls_mbb) and like their Facebook page (Nicholls Athletics).

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